Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Seven 'Don'ts' of good web design

[Tags: , ]. Following my seven tips for good web design, here are my seven don'ts of web design.

1. Don't begin designing on-screen

Computers help us do things better - but they also take more time and narrow our options. Designing on-screen takes longer than a quick sketch on paper, and you'll find yourself limited by your technical skills. Speed things up by brainstorming ideas on paper first - this way you can make lots of mistakes and learn from them; you can explore lots of different ways of doing things without getting drawn down one path too soon; and you set yourself a clear objective before you sit down to fiddle with the tools on a web design or graphics package.

2. Don't overload us with fonts, sizes and colours

Consider two the magic number. Stick to two fonts, in two sizes, and two colours. Keep your images to one of two sizes. The consistency will make your page look professional, and make it clear and easy to use; the contrast will allow you to draw the user in - so, for instance, you might have a 'normal' font and a 'headline' font; a 'normal' size and a 'headline' size; a 'normal' colour and a 'highlight' colour. Simple.

3. Don't use fonts that aren't web friendly

When it comes to text, stick to Arial, Times, Helvetica, Verdana, Georgia and Courier - if you're using Dreamweaver the list of fonts should already be there on the Property palette. You might be tempted to use something more unusual, but your typographical skills will be wasted: unless the font is on the user's computer, it won't display at all.

4. Don't change layout between pages

As soon as a user enters your site they are learning how to use it. They'll want to know where the navigation is, and where the content is. If you move things between pages they have to re-learn all over again, and this frustrates them. Chances are, they won't stick around. Make things easy for your user by keeping your layout consistent.

5. Don't leave webpages as 'Untitled Document'

A webpage title serves a number of functions. It's very important in being listed by search engines; it's the title that is used when someone bookmarks your site; and it's the phrase that runs across the top of the screen when they're looking at your page. Having that say 'Untitled Document' makes you look unprofessional. So make sure you title your document: in Dreamweaver you can do this in the 'Title' box near the top of the screen; in HTML look for the title tag.

6. Don't stop at your first attempt

You first page design might look good. It might even look great. But your second attempt will look even better, and your third better still. The secret to great design is re-design: tweak, tweak and tweak again and you'll have something to be proud of.

7. Don't use more than seven main navigation buttons

Too many buttons and you confuse the user - see this website for an extreme example. Our short-term memories will only hold around seven items, so stick to seven or less. Why do you think this list is only seven tips long?


Blogger Blog guy said...

Very helpful blog. I'll keep reading. Please visit my blog about
Web design.

6:13 am  

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